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  • Sacred Conversations 2016

Shelley Heideman: It is justice and systemic change we seek

The Faith Coalition for the Common Good, established in 2009, is a diverse organization of 25 faith congregations, community service and labor union organizations working together to improve life in the Springfield area.

The Faith Coalition trains, educates and motivates ordinary people to have an impact on the political, social, economic and environmental decisions that affect our lives. In addition to working on local issues, the Faith Coalition addresses statewide and national equity issues by partnering with our sister organizations in Gamaliel of Illinois (located in the Quad Cities, Metro East St. Louis and Chicago) and National Gamaliel.

Springfield’s most current census data shows an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent. The unemployment rate of blacks is three times that of whites. The Springfield poverty rate is 14.6 percent. Twice as many black families live in poverty as white families. All moms and dads want to provide for their families, but unemployment and poverty plague our city and our country. Institutional racism continues, and black families suffer the consequences.

Many good charity organizations provide food, clothing and shelter, but how is the cycle of poverty broken? How is a change made in the system?

You may have heard the old saying: Give a man a fish; he eats for a day. Teach him to fish; he eats for a lifetime. Change begins with jobs.

The Faith Coalition’s Rail Community Benefits Agreement has been endorsed by the city of Springfield, the Sangamon County Board and the Illinois Department of Transportation. The agreement ensures that jobs are generated through the Springfield Rail Project.

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